Having your kitten vaccinated before they are three months old is very important. But how often should they have the injections, and are they completely safe? To help put your mind at ease, and sort fact from fiction when it comes to protecting your pet’s health, we’ve busted a few common immunisation myths.
MYTH: Once I’ve had my kitten vaccinated they’re immune for life.
Unfortunately, this isn’t true. It’s important to have your pet vaccinated every year to maintain his or her immunity against disease. So, for the rest of his or her life, your kitten will need annual boosters against at least one of the most serious illnesses – such as feline infectious enteritis, feline herpes virus, feline calicivirus and feline leukaemia, all of which are highly contagious.
MYTH: Feline leukaemia is rare, so my cat won’t need that injection.
Sadly, feline leukaemia is still a common cause of early death in young cats in the UK. It is especially prevalent in urban areas and among unneutered animals. Kittens living in multi-cat households are also at risk.
MYTH: Vaccinations make my pet feel poorly.
These days this is extremely unlikely. All feline vaccines are a modified form of the disease that they protect against, and adverse reactions are very rare.
MYTH: My kitten is never in contact with other pets, so he/she won’t need to be vaccinated.
Many of the diseases your cat will be vaccinated against aren’t spread directly from pet to pet, meaning your furry friend could still catch an illness from something as simple as venturing outside! And your pet can also be at risk from viruses transmitted via your hands or clothes from cats you may come into contact with. Even if your cat goes out only rarely, or goes to a cattery (even very occasionally), they are at risk of contracting these diseases.
MYTH: Pets are given boosters too often.
Your vet will never prescribe vaccinations unnecessarily. Instead, they’ll get to know your kitten to assess them and their needs on an individual basis, in order to determine the precise vaccines to be given. Your vet will also determine the right amount of time to leave between vaccines according to your pet’s age, their potential exposure to diseases and the type of vaccine to be given.
MYTH: I missed giving my pet a booster last year, but I can just give him/her one this year instead.
This depends on the injection that’s been missed but, if more than 15 months passes between boosters, it’s likely that your vet will recommend restarting your pet’s vaccination programme from the beginning.
When should your kitten have vaccinations?
Kittens usually start with a course of two injections, given at nine and 12 weeks. A booster follows this first vaccination 12 months later, and then again once a year throughout your cat’s adult life.
Keep your kitten’s vaccination records safe and check whether your vet practice offers a vaccination reminder service. Remember, as part of your Petplan insurance, you must keep your cat’s vaccinations up to date.